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Types Of Evidence

What Is The Definition Of Evidence?

In the context of court proceedings, evidence refers to any information presented to assist the jury in determining whether a crime has been committed. Its primary purpose is to ascertain the truth of a case. The UK law treats, defines, and categorises evidence under specific guidelines outlined in governmental guidance documents.

In every court case, both the claimant/prosecution and the defence are obligated to provide evidence supporting their testimonies. Without supporting evidence, claims made by either party are unsubstantiated and at risk of failure.

What Is An Exhibit?

In legal contexts, an exhibit is a document or item presented to a witness or referenced by a witness as evidence during court proceedings.

In the UK, it is the responsibility of the investigating police officer to retain items potentially serving as evidence of a crime. These exhibits are later transferred to the prosecution pending trial, with the duty to safeguard them from loss or damage. The prosecution also facilitates reasonable access to exhibits for the defence, allowing inspection and examination. Presenting exhibits in court is also the prosecution's responsibility.

When Is A Piece Of Evidence Admissable?

In the UK, strict laws govern the admissibility of evidence in court to ensure fair trials. Evidence must meet specific criteria to be deemed admissible:

  1. Probative (having the quality of proving something): Evidence must add value to the case and be credible. If its probative value is low, indicating it's unlikely to aid the jury in proving or disproving the case, it may be dismissed.
  2. Non-Prejudicial (not harmful to): Evidence must be factual and impartial, excluding unfairly biased information against the defendant.
  3. Relevant (connected to the facts of the case): Evidence must relate to the matter under discussion, either supporting or refuting its provability.
  4. Coherent (logical and consistent): Evidence must be logically presented in chronological order, facilitating comprehension.
  5. Provable (able to demonstrate proof): Evidence must be demonstrable unless lawfully allowed otherwise.

What Is The 'Res Gestae Rule'?

The 'res gestae' rule, Latin for 'things done,' allows witnesses time to contextualise their evidence. It permits witnesses to provide additional information surrounding an event to make their evidence more understandable. However, judges must evaluate the relevance and probative value of this additional information, especially if it involves hearsay or lacks probative value.

What Are The Classifications Of Evidence?

  • Direct Evidence: Direct evidence is acquired firsthand by the witness through their senses, such as sight, hearing, or touch. It must not be derived from hearsay or overheard information.
  • Circumstantial Evidence: Circumstantial evidence is inferred from circumstances surrounding an event rather than observed directly. It allows conclusions to be drawn from a set of circumstances related to the event.
  • Primary Evidence: Primary evidence, also known as best evidence, constitutes the most reliable evidence available, often the object itself or a substantiated statement about it.
  • Secondary Evidence: Secondary evidence is reproduced from an original document or source, such as a photocopy or oral statement.
  • Forensic Evidence: Forensic evidence results from scientific tests conducted on evidence and is admissible if conducted by verified forensic experts.
  • Expert Evidence: Expert evidence provides opinions from qualified experts to aid the judge or jury in understanding complex matters. It is admissible if it helps inform the decision but may be excluded if it's deemed unnecessary, misleading, or could mislead the jury.

Forms of evidence

  • Testimony: Oral evidence presented in court under oath or affirmation.
  • Hearsay: Second hand evidence obtained from a third party's experience, generally not admissible in criminal cases.
  • Real Evidence: Physical evidence, such as documents, weapons, or photographs, presented in court.
BKP Solicitors